An in-depth guide to Sailing in Montenegro

By January 12, 2021Blog

Looking for more information on your sailing holiday to Montenegro? Wondering where’s best to eat in Tivat, Herceg Novi, and Budva? Then you’re in the right place.

Montenegro is an up-and-coming destination for unforgettable yacht charters and the perfect choice for your sailing adventure. Meandering coastline, sparkling seas, and almost-constant sunshine – this dazzling stretch of the Adriatic Sea punches well above its weight for a country half the size of Belgium!

In this in-depth guide, we’ve brought together our favourite sites, restaurants, beaches and bars to give you a taste of the adventure to come.

You might also like: Top 10 best things to see and do in Montenegro

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Weather and sailing conditions in Montenegro

Montenegro has a typical Mediterranean climate, so expect it to be hot, hot, hot in the summer months. Average coastal temperatures in Jul-Aug are 27 degrees with plenty of clear blue skies and sunshine. All in all, amazing conditions for relaxing on deck and swimming in those azure blue seas.

Not that the temperature drops too much in the months either side. May-Jun and Sept-Oct also boast balmy average temperatures of 20 degrees on the coast. The sea is also warm enough to swim at this time – and without any risk of crowds!

As for sailing conditions: well, they’re pretty perfect. With more the 250 days of sun a year and that typical Mediterranean sea breeze, there’s a reason Montenegro is fast becoming a ‘must-visit’ destination for yachting enthusiasts and newcomers alike.

Where to visit/stop when sailing in Montenegro

A seven-day Montenegro yacht charter gives you the perfect taste of all the country has to offer. A week offers plenty of time to take in the highlights of this Balkan beauty, while still enjoying a relaxing sailing trip.

You’ll spend your days exploring the ancient streets of Herceg Novi, swimming in the azure seas of Kotor Bay, sampling the freshest seafood at Bigova, and marvelling at the fairy tale beauty of Sveti Stefan. What could be better?

Below we’ve rounded up our favourite stops, so you can learn more about what the country has to offer.

Of course you’ll find more than you could fit into a week here, but that’s the beauty of The Big Sail itineraries. Use our insider knowledge and cherry-pick your ideal destinations, to craft a hassle-free sailing holiday that’s 100% you.

The Big Sail Montenegro Sailing Holiday Porto Montenegro

Sailing in Montenegro: the popular coastal towns

Tivat and Porto Montenegro

Porto Montenegro makes for the ideal first night in Montenegro. Transformed from a navy shipyard into a world-class superyacht marina, there’s no shortage of luxury hotels, bars, and restaurants. Not to mention the views are stunning. There’s something magical about the juxtaposition of multi-story exclusive hotels, sparkling blue waters, and the backdrop of verdant green mountains.

When it comes to finding something to eat, all the “Konobas” (restaurants) around the bay are excellent for pasta, grilled fish and meat. These are two of our favourites:

Murano Restaurant Hotel £££
Speak to anyone who has visited Murano and they nearly all say the same thing: the service and the food are first class. Of course you have to pay for it… But, as a way to see in your adventure in style, we’ve yet to see it beaten.

Bevanda Ristorante & Pizzeria £-££
For something a little more wallet-friendly you’ll have to head around the bay slightly. A ten-minute walk from the marina you’ll find this gem of a pizzeria. With sea views and friendly staff, it’s one of the best places in town. (Particular shout-out goes to their breakfasts. We still dream of their French toast stuffed with local prosciutto and cheese.)

Herceg Novi

As you head towards Herceg Novi, the medieval fortified city guarding the entrance to the Boka Kotorska Bay, you might want to visit the Blue Cave. It’s one of the biggest and most picturesque in the series of caves located along this stretch of coastline. With its iridescent blue waters this secluded spot is a must-see for nature lovers and photographers.

Then moor on the pier under the medieval fortress to begin your time in Herceg Novi.

The old town has some pretty winding stone streets to explore. Each turn reveals flowered courtyards lined with pomegranate and kiwi trees. There’s plenty of history to be found as well. The Citadel may have finally tumbled into the sea by the catastrophic earthquake in 1979, but the ruins of the walls and impressive views are still well worth a visit.

For stunning night-time views, sit in the courtyard of Tri Lipe Restaurant (£-££). Not only can you enjoy their family-friendly, authentic (and great value) food, but you can also take in the majesty of the castle.

The next morning, we recommend you stop for a coffee in the Herceg Stjepjan square. Sip your espresso surrounded by Palm trees and its little church in the middle; you’ll see why this town has charmed so many travellers.

Then, for something a little different, why not head to Castel Savina winery. Montenegro might not be the first place that comes to mind for a vineyard tour, but as one of the sunniest spots on the Adriatic it has a unique microclimate that makes it a wine lover’s dream. Castel Savina is the only vineyard on Montenegro’s southwestern coastline and a glass of their delicate rosé might just be heaven.

The BIg Sail Montenegro Sailing Holiday Budva

Budva

Budva is one of the oldest settlements on the Adriatic Sea, with a history that dates back 2,500 years. So there’s plenty of culture to fit into your afternoon. We recommend spending some time walking around the Stari Grad (old town), taking in sites such as Church of the Holy Trinity, Rustovo Monastery, and the ruins of the Roman-era Necropolis. The Citadel itself and the museum in the old town are also excellent places to learn about the vibrant history of this town.

Looking for lunch? Greek chicken gyros with tzatziki is a bit of a local speciality and THE best are found at Verde (£). It might not scream quality from the outside, but the food speaks for itself.

In the evening travellers really are spoiled for choice, with more restaurants offering amazing seafood than you can count. But, if we had to pick our favourites it would have to be the following:

Kafana Rivijera £££
Nestled in the Old Town, this authentic-feeling restaurant makes for a wonderful evening in Budva. The seafood platter is a highlight. And the selection of local dishes and wines on offer is superb.

Restoran Lim ££-£££
It’s the beautiful tree-laden garden terrace and beachside location that gives Restoran Lim it’s buzzing atmosphere. But it’s the food that makes it such a repeat hit! There are delicious seafood and grilled meat options, with portion sizes that are spot-on for hungry sea-faring adventures.

The next morning, head back to the old town for some more exploring or relax on one of the kilometres-long beaches. Our top pick is the sandy Mogren Beach for its impressive natural beauty. (En route be sure not to miss the Ballerina statue – the symbol of Budva.)

Kotor

Kotor’s UNESCO-protected Old Town is one of the most popular destinations in Montenegro for very good reason. The unforgettable views, enthralling history and seriously good food ensures Kotor more than earns its place at the top of any Montenegro itinerary.

First conquered by the Greeks around the fourth Century BC, the town was once a fortified village surrounded by 20-metre-high walls. Today, all that are left of those walls may be ruins, but visitors can still stroll the town’s enchanting narrow streets, visit its main square (the Piazza of the Arms) for coffee, and generally marvel at the beauty of times gone by.

While you’re here, don’t miss out on the very best view in the town…only 1,355 one thousand steps up! San Giovanni Fortress dates from the ninth Century and no visit to Kotor is complete without a hike to the top. The views are stunning, taking in the Bay of Kotor, Mt Vrmac and the town below.

When it’s time to eat, Konoba Bonaca (££-£££) has some of the best sea views around – not to mention a gorgeous black risotto. And we simply have to mention Tanjga Steak House and BBQ (£-££). Their steak platters – served with generous portions of chips and grilled vegetables – are far more special than the unassuming exterior suggests.

If you fancy venturing a bit further afield then Njegoš Mausoleum is well worth a visit from Kotor. An hour’s drive there and back, we’d recommend setting aside an afternoon for the trip. But, trust us, the views are worth it. From there you’ll discover 360° views of Montenegro, Croatia and even Albania. Once-in-a-lifetime sort of views.

The Big Sail Yacht Charter Montenegro Sailing Itinerary - Herceg Novi

Bar

Bar is one of the least touristy towns on the Montenegrin coast – an up-and-coming destination that makes the perfect addition to your Montenegro sailing adventure.

On the waterfront, you’ll find King Nikola’s Palace. It was built in 1885 as a gift to King Nikola’s daughter and son-in-law. It’s now the town museum and an ideal place to learn more about the town’s diverse culture.

Once you’ve had your fill, the cobbled street that leads to the old town in Bar might just be the prettiest street in Montenegro. It’s a colourful mish-mash of restaurants and souvenir shops. Walking here you’ll really feel the Turkish influence that 300 years of Ottoman rule had on the area. This is a great place to pick up a souvenir or stop for a Turkish coffee after you’ve explored the old town ruins.

Next, no stop in Bar is complete without seeing ‘Stara Maslina’ or the ‘old olive tree’. There are over 100,000 olive trees in the region and most are well over a thousand years old, but there’s one particular olive tree that’s become a tourist attraction. ‘Stara Maslina’ is reported to be over 2,200 years old, making it the oldest tree in Europe and maybe even the world. Definitely worth a view.

Finally, make the most of having a boat at your disposal by heading to one of Montenegro’s most exclusive beaches. Queen’s beach was the beach favoured by Queen Milena, King Nikola’s wife. Accessed only by boat, it is the perfect spot to spend a few hours.

The Big Sail Montenegro Sailing Holiday Montenegro

Sailing in Montenegro: the hidden gems

Rose

At the very tip of the gorgeous Luštica Peninsula you’ll find Rose (pronounced with two syllables: ro-seh). Managing to offer serenity and tranquillity even in the busiest months, this sleepy fishing village is a wonderful stop for an afternoon.

Get a taste of real Montenegrin village life, as you walk through the quaint streets and ancient buildings.  Rose is typically left off of most tourist itineraries, so you’ll feel as if you have the picturesque port, quiet coves, and calm lookout points all to yourself.

Rose is also a popular diving spot. Beneath the sparkling seas, there are various underwater wrecks and an abundance of marine life to be discovered.

But that’s not to say there’s nothing here beyond Montenegro’s stunning natural beauty (although it delivers that in buckets). From May to September a handful of waterside eateries open their doors to day trippers. This scenic town is one of the best places to enjoy some of the freshest, locally caught seafood. The mussels in particular are a must try – some people consider them the best in the region! Our favourite stop is what used to be Rose’s medieval fortress; today it’s a restaurant revered among locals.

Perast

You’ll be forgiven for thinking you’ve stepped into Venice when you arrive at Perast. Nestled on the shore of the Bay of Kotor, this tiny town was once the seafaring capital of the Venetian Republic. And it shows. Its cobbled streets sing with memories of former glory, while beauty hides around every corner.

Despite having only 247 residents and one main street, Perast boasts an impressive sixteen churches and seventeen formerly grand palazzi. While some are now no more than enigmatic ruins sprouting bougainvillea and wild fig trees, others have been swept up in the rush of investment in the area. It’s still a relatively quiet stop though and you can easily while away an hour or so in the charming streets.

At its heart is St Nicholas’ Church, set on a small square lined with date palms and the bronze busts of famous citizens. From here, you can climb the 55-meter Perast Bell Tower to see a beautiful view of town. Look out for Perast’s most famous landmarks: the picturesque islands off-shore that are home to the 9th-century Benedictine abbey of Sveti Ðorđe (St George) and the 15th-century Gospa od Škrpjela (Our Lady of the Rocks).

Of course, one of the quintessential things to do in Perast is to dine at one of the 10 or so waterside restaurants. Restaurant Conte is a real highlight for dinner. It’s not a cheap eat, but the experience is so special. With its island views, table-top flowers and super fresh oysters, this place is romance all the way. The food is equally impressive: you’re presented with platters of whole fish to select from and then your choice returns, cooked and silver-served, to your table.

The Big Sail Montenegro Sailing Holiday Perast

Petrovac

Several kilometres up the coast from Budva and south of Sveti Stefan lies stunning Petrovac. It’s one of the more laid back resorts along the Montenegrin coast. Still unblemished by the high-rise hotels of Budva or Porto Montenegro, it’s a lovely addition to your sailing in Montenegro itinerary.

There’s plenty of history to explore here. The Romans built their summer villas on this lovely bay, and you can see the evidence of in the Roman mosaics at the end of the town. There’s also the ruins of a 16th-century Venetian fortress perched on the cliff, guarding the bay below.

Along the promenade, and particularly at the north end of the bay, you will find an abundance of bars, cafes and excellent seafood restaurants. Our favourite is currently Fat Boys Kafana (££-£££), with their mouthwateringly good octopus salad and fantastic local wine. Or, if you fancy a break from seafood, there’s great value to be found at Pizzeria Lazaret (£).

Ulcinj

It’s well worth adding Ulcinj to your sailing trip in Montenegro. Having existed under Roman, Byzantine, Venetian and Ottoman rules, the town is a bustling melting pot of architectural styles and ancient ruins.

The minarets of numerous mosques and kebab stands around Mala Plaža (Small Beach) give Ulcinj an Eastern feel that’s quite different from the rest of the towns listed here. The Museum of Local History is a sensible place to start in order to begin tracing the town’s 2,000 years of colourful history. Or for those looking for a bit of adventure, kite-surfing is a popular past-time on Ulcinj beautiful sandy beaches.

In the evening, the best restaurants are to the south, along the Bojana River. But do make sure you walk back along the seafront. The view of the Old Town, glowing across the bay, is one that’s hard to forget.

Where to go after your sailing holiday in Montenegro?

Just because your sailing adventure has come to an end, doesn’t means you have to leave straight away. Why not take a day trip to Durmitor National Park or head inland to Lake Skadar. You can find out more on our guide to the Top 10 Best Things to See and Do in Montenegro.

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Next steps? Get in touch to find out about a bareboat or skippered Montenegrin yacht charter with The Big Sail. We’ll recommend the best yacht(s) for your group, size, and budget, then tailor-make a unique itinerary for your perfect personalised Montenegro sailing holiday. Better yet, it’s all completely commitment free.

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